Tebow over Manning? Let's not get ahead of ourselves

Would you dare bench Peyton Manning this week in favor of Tim Tebow? I know it's a huge risk, but the Texans are so bad on defense! - J. Cutteridge, United Kingdom

Michael Fabiano: I do think Tebow has some sleeper value based on his solid performance last week and a tasty upcoming matchup against the Texans, but there's no way I'm benching Manning to start him. You have one of the few elite quarterbacks in fantasy football, and now is the time to lean on him. Considering that the Raiders have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers, Manning should be considered a must-start option outside of owners who also own Michael Vick.

I need to start two running backs from Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Turner and Jamaal Charles. Who should I choose? Also, should I start Hakeem Nicks or Miles Austin along with Andre Johnson? Thanks for all the help this season. - E. Torres, Bronx, N.Y.

M.F.: I think Charles is a solid option this week, but I'd have to start Turner and Mendenhall at running back. The Burner is a beast at home, and he's owned the Saints as a member of the Falcons. In fact, he's rushed for 100-plus yards in their last two meetings and has scored at least one touchdown in each of the last four meetings. Mendenhall is also a great option against the Panthers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. At wide receiver, I would start Nicks over Austin. He's been a star for the Giants and fantasy owners alike, so it will be hard to bench him even against a tough team like the Packers.

I had a 7-7 record in the regular season but have still reached our league's championship! Now I need to start two of the following four wide receivers: Pierre Garcon, Brandon Lloyd, Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson. Help me out! - A. Mitchell, Lawrence, Kan.

M.F.: Johnson is a must-start wideout regardless of the opponent, so your final decision comes down to Garcon, Lloyd and Jennings. With Aaron Rodgers expected to be active against the Giants, I'd start Jennings. I do like Lloyd against the Texans and their awful pass defense, but Rodgers is clearly a more reliable option than Tebow between the two signal-callers. That makes Jennings the favorite ahead of Lloyd.

I need to start two of the following three running backs in our league's championship game: LeGarrette Blount, Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Marshawn Lynch. Who should I choose? - N. Minnix, Delaware

M.F.: Lynch has scored four touchdowns in his last three games, and this week's matchup against the Buccaneers' weak run defense does make him a viable flex option in some leagues. However, he's still the player to bench out of this trio. Blount is coming off a great game against the Lions (110 yards, one touchdown), and an upcoming matchup against Lynch's Seahawks is too good to pass on. The same goes for Green-Ellis, who has been a touchdown machine and faces a porous Bills run defense in Week 16.

Your advice has gotten me to my fourth championship game in this league, and I'm looking for one more nugget of gold to get me a third championship in four years. I'm in a 10-team keeper league with a standard scoring system, and we start just one quarterback. Should I start Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, or target someone off waivers like David Garrard, Matt Cassel or Kerry Collins? Also, which wideout would you bench from Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald? - D. Grigolette, Fulton, Ill.

M.F.: I like Garrard, who faces a terrible Redskins pass defense, more than Roethlisberger, Flacco or any of the other quarterbacks you've mentioned. If Jon Kitna is also available, however, I would add and start him over all of them. He's been solid and reliable as the Cowboys starter and faces a great matchup against the Cardinals of Christmas. As much as I like Fitzgerald against the Cowboys, I think he's the wideout to bench. As I mentioned earlier, Nicks is touch to bench regardless of the opponent. Jackson, who is coming off a three-touchdown performance last Thursday night, is also a great option against the Bengals and their vulnerable defensive unit.

Michael, I've used your advice every week and it's gotten me to the finals! Now I need more help to win a title. Which two running backs would you start from Peyton Hillis, Matt Forte, Ryan Torain, Mike Tolbert and Green-Ellis? Also, which three wideouts would you start from Nicks, Calvin Johnson, Steve Johnson, Kenny Britt and Vincent Jackson? - P. Devries, Canada

M.F.: The two running backs to start are Green-Ellis and Torain. As I mentioned earlier, the Law Firm has a great matchup against the Bills. Torain, who has put up major points in the last two weeks, faces a Jaguars defense that's allowed an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to running backs. I realize that sitting Hillis is tough, especially when you consider what he did against the Ravens back in Week 3 (144 yards, touchdown). However, I have to wonder if he is starting to slow down. In his last three games, Hillis has averaged a mere 8.6 fantasy points on NFL.com. He also hasn't scored a touchdown in his last four games, as opposing defenses are keying on stopping him as the centerpiece of the Browns offense. The Ravens defense is also stout against the run overall, allowing an average of just 11.6 fantasy points to running backs. At the wide receiver spot, I'd start Megatron, Nicks and Jackson. While I do like Steve Johnson and Britt, that trio of wideouts is very hard to bench right now.

I can't believe it's the final week of the fantasy football season! Which three wide receivers should I start in our league's championship: Britt, Jennings, Vincent Jackson, Deion Branch, Malcom Floyd and Mike Williams (SEA)? Also, should I start Chris Cooley or Kevin Boss? - J. Thorne, Maryland

M.F.: I'd go with Jennings, Jackson and Britt at the wide receiver position. Again, Rodgers is expected to be back under center this week, which makes Jennings a must-start option. It's a toss up between Cooley and Boss at tight end, but I would side with the latter. He's been on fire in recent weeks, scoring a touchdown in five of his last seven games. Boss also has a great matchup against the Packers - their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

I need to start two running backs from Charles, Jonathan Stewart and Tim Hightower. This is a very tough decision. Please help! - R. Burger, Canada

M.F.: Charles is without question the best of these three running backs, so your decision comes down to Stewart and Hightower. It's a tough call, but I'd go with Stewart based on the fact that he's established himself as the true featured back in Carolina. Hightower has a much more favorable matchup, but he burned a lot of owners last week (including myself) in what was a great matchup against Stewart's Panthers. Not only did he fail to post good totals, but Hightower also lost work to Beanie Wells. If you can add Tashard Choice or Lynch off the waiver wire this week, I would pick up and start either one of those two runners ahead of both Stewart and Hightower.

I know you are a firm believer in sticking with starters, but Vick or Matt Cassel for Week 16? Also I need to start three running backs from Jacobs, Tolbert, Ray Rice and Steven Jackson. Get me to another fantasy title, Mike! - E. Black, Seattle, Wash.

M.F.: I don't know if I'll get you to a fantasy championship, but Vick will. I can't say this loudly or often enough -- and I've been saying it for several weeks now. It doesn't matter if you have Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning or any of the other elite fantasy quarterbacks, you should be starting Vick. There's not even a debate between him and Cassel. At running back, start Rice and Jackson. I'm not very high on Jacobs this week, and Tolbert is starting to lose some work to Ryan Mathews.

I can keep four players for next season, and I plan to retain Tony Romo, Adrian Peterson and Antonio Gates. Who should be my fourth keeper from the following players: Stewart, Torain, Calvin Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Williams (TB), Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Sidney Rice? - D. Reed, New Zealand

M.F.: You have some nice keeper options to consider, but Johnson is the best of the bunch. That gives you a star at each of the top four fantasy positions, which is a nice start to building a well-rounded fantasy team. I do like Stewart, especially with DeAngelo Williams slated to become a free agent, but Megatron is still the best bet.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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